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1779. towns, he tell us, were burnt, and more than one hundred and sixty thousand bushels of corn. Well did the Senecas name Washington, whose armies did all this, “the Town Destroyer." Having performed this portion of his work, Sullivan turned homeward from the beautiful valley of the Genesee; leaving Niagara, whither the Indians fled, as to the strong hold of British power in that neighborhood, untouched. This conduct, Mr. Stone thinks “difficult of solution,”'* as he supposes the conduct of that post to have been one of the main objects of the expedition. Such, however, was not the fact. Originally it had been part of the proposed plan to attack Niagara ; f but, early in January, Washington was led to doubt, and then to abandon, that part of the plan, thinking it wiser to carry on, merely, some operations on a smaller scale against the savages.” I
One of the smaller operations was from the West. On the 22d of March, 1779, Washington wrote to Colonel Daniel Brodhead, who had succeeded McIntosh at Fort Pitt, that an incursion into the country of the Six Nations was in preparation, and that in connection therewith, it might be advisable for a force to ascend the Alleghany to Kittaning, and thence to Venango, and having fortified both points, to strike the Mingoes and Munceys upon French creek and elsewhere in that neighborhood, and thus aid General Sullivan in the great blow he was to give by his march up the Susquehanna. Brodhead was also directed to say to the western Indians, that if they made any trouble, the whole force of the United States would be turned against them, and they should be cut off from the face of the earth. But on the 21st of April these orders were countermanded, and the western commander was directed to prepare a rod for the Indians of the Ohio and western lakes; and especially to learn the best time for attacking Detroit. Whether this last advice came too late, or was withdrawn again, we have no means of learning; but Brodhead proceeded as originally directed; marched up the Alleghany, burned the towns of the Indians, and destroyed their crops. ||
The immediate results of this and other equally prompt and severe measures, was to bring the Delawares, Shawanese, and even Wyandots, to Fort Pitt, on a treaty of peace. There Brod
* Vol. ii. p. 36.
217 head met them, on his return in September, and a long conference was held, to the satisfaction of both parties.
Farther west during this summer and autumn the. Indians were more successful. In July, the stations being still troubled, Colonel Bowman undertook an expedition into the country of the Shawanese, acting upon Washington's principle, that to defend yourselves against Indians, you must assail them. He marched undiscovered into the immediate vicinity of the towns upon the Little Miami, and so divided and arranged his forces, as to ensure apparent success; one portion of the troops being commanded by himself, another by Colonel Benjamin Logan; but from some unexpected cause, his division of the whites did not co-operate fully with that led by Logan, and the whole body was forced to retreat, after having taken some booty, including a hundred and sixty horses, and leaving the town of the savages in cinders, but also leaving the fierce warriors themselves in no degree daunted or crippled.*
Nor was it long before they showed themselves south of the Ohio again, and unexpectedly won a victory over the Americans of no slight importance. The facts, so far as we can gather them, are these:
An expedition which had been in the neighborhood of Lexington, where the first permanent improvements were made in April of this year,t upon its return came to the Ohio near the Licking, at the very time that Colonel Rogers and Captain Benham reached the same point on their way up the river in boats. A few of the Indians were seen by the commander of the little American squadron, near the mouth of the Licking; and supposing himself to be far superior in numbers, he caused seventy of his men to land, intending to surround the savages; in a few moments, however he found he was himself surrounded, and after a hard fought battle, only twenty or twenty-five, or perhaps even fewer, of the party were left alive. I It was in connection with this skirmish that a coincidence occurred which seems to belong rather to a fanciful story than to sober history, and which yet appears to be well authenticated. In the party of whites was Captain Robert Benham. He was one of those that fell, being shot through both hips, so as to be powerless in his lower limbs; he dragged himself, however, to a tree-top, and there lay concealed from the savages after the contest was over. On the
Marshall i. 91. See General Ray's opinion, note to Butler, 110. + Holmes's Annals, ii. 304; note. American Pioneer, ii. 346. Butler, 101. Marshall, i. 89.
# Butler, 24 edition, 102. (In this account there is confusion ; the Indians are represented as coming on their return from Kentucky, down the Little Miami.) McClung, 148.
Claims to Western Lands.
evening of the second day, seeing a raccoon, he shot it, but no sooner was the crack of his rifle heard than he distinguished a human voice, not far distant; supposing it to be some Indian, he re-loaded his gun and prepared for defence; but a few moments undeceived him, and he discovered that the person whose voice he had heard was a fellow-sufferer, with this difference, however, that both his arms were broken! Here then, were the only two survivers of the combat, (except those who had entirely escaped,) with one pair of legs and one pair of arms between them. It will be easily believed that they formed a co-partnership for mutual aid and defence. Benham shot the game which his friend drove toward him, and the man with sound legs then kicked it to the spot where he with sound arms sat ready to cook it. To procure water, the one with legs took a hat by the brim in his teeth, and walked into the Licking up to his neck, while the man with arms was to make signals if any boat appeared in sight. In this way they spent about six weeks, when, upon the 27th of November, they were rescued. Benham afterward bought and lived upon the land where the battle took place; his companion, Mr. Butler, tells us, was, a few years since, still living at Brownsville, Pennsylvania.
But the military operations of 1779 were not those which were of the most vital importance to the west. The passage of the Land Laws by Virginia was of more consequence than the losing or gaining of many battles, to the hardy pioneers of Kentucky and to their descendents. Of these laws we can give at best a vague outline, but it may be enough to render the subject in some degree intelligible.
In 1779 there existed claims of very various kinds to the western lands;
1. Those of the Ohio, Walpole, and other companies, who had a title more or less perfect, from the British government: none of these had been perfected by patents, however.
2. Claims founded on the military bounty warrants of 1763: some of these were patented.
3. Henderson's claim by purchase from the Indians. 4. Those based on mere selection and occupancy. 5. Others resting on selection and survey, without occupancy.
6. Claims of persons who had imported settlers; for each such settler, under an old law, fifty acres were to be allowed.
7. Claims of persons who had paid money into the old colonial treasury for land.
219 8. The claims of the officers and soldiers of the Revolution, to whom Virginia was indebted.
These various claims were in the first place to be provided for, and then the residue of the rich vallies beyond the mountains might be sold to pay the debts of the parent State. In May,* the chief laws relative to this most important and complicated subject were passed, and commissioners were appointed to examine the various claims which might be presented, and give judgment according to the evidence brought forward, their proceedings, however, to remain open to revision until December 1, 1780. And as the subject was a perplexed one, the following principles were laid down for their guidance:
I. All surveys (without patents,) made before January 1, 1778, by any county surveyor commissioned by William and Mary College, and founded (a) upon charter; (b) upon importation rights duly proved; (c) upon treasury rights, (money paid into the colonial treasury;) (d) upon entries not exceeding four hundred acres, made before October 26, 1763; (e) upon acts of the Virginia Assembly resulting from orders in council, &c.; (f) upon any warrant from a colonial governor, for military services, &c. were to be good; all other surveys null and void.
II. Those who had not made surveys, if claiming (a) under importation rights; (b) under treasury rights; (c) under warrants for military services, were to be admitted to survey and entry.
III. Those who had actually settled, or caused at their cost others to settle, on unappropriated lands, before January 1, 1778, were to have four hundred acres, or less, as they pleased, for every family so settled; paying $2.25 for each hundred acres.
IV. Those who had settled in villages before January 1, 1778, were to receive for each family four hundred acres, adjacent to the village, at $2.25 per hundred acres; and the village property was to remain unsurveyed until the general assembly could examine the titles to it, and do full justice.
V. To all having settlement rights, as above described, was given also a right of pre-emption to one thousand acres adjoining the settlement, at State prices — forty cents an acre.
VI. To those who had settled since January 1, 1778, was given a pre-emption right to four hundred acres, adjoining and including the settlement made by them.
VII. All the region between Green river, the Cumberland moun*Morehead, 166.
Virginia Land Laws.
tains, Tennessee, the river Tennessee, and the Ohio, was reserved, to be used for military claims.
VIII. The two hundred thousand acres granted Henderson and his associates, October, 1778, along the Ohio, below the mouth of Green river, remained still appropriated to them.
Having thus provided for the various classes of claimants, the Legislature offered the remainder of the public lands at forty cents an acre: the money was to be paid into the Treasury and a warrant for the quantity wished taken by the purchaser; this warrant he was to take to the surveyor of the county in which he wished to locate, and an entry was to be made of every location, so special and distinct that the adjoining lands might be known with certainty. To persons unable to pay cash, four hundred acres were to be sold on credit, and an order of the county court was to be substituted for the warrant of the Treasury.
To carry these laws into effect, four Virginians were sent westward to attend to claims; these gentlemen opened their court on the 13th of October, at St. Asaphs, and continued their sessions at various points, until April, 26, 1780, when they adjourned to meet no more, after having given judgment in favor of about three thousand claims. The labors of the commissioners being ended, those of the surveyor commenced; and Mr. George May, who had been appointed to that office, assumed its duties upon the 10th day of that month the name of which he bore.*
* Marshall, i, 82. 97. See also Statutes of Virginia, by B. W. Leigh, ii. 347. 348. 350, 353. 388.